Jun
01
2012

MSNBC MIA on Iran

More Obama boosterism than foreign policy examination

Photo Credit: MSNBC/Mediaite

Getting independent, skeptical coverage of official claims about Iran—from its supposed nuclear weapons program (Extra!, 9-10/05, 1/12) to its alleged plans to launch terrorist attacks across the world (Extra!, 3/12)—is essential. One place you might expect to see more critical coverage is on supposedly left-leaning MSNBC. But when it comes to Iran, in what little coverage it offers the channel largely mirrors the Democratic Party line. For the most part, it was hard to find Iran on MSNBC. From January to April, two of MSNBC’s stars, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz, brought it up only 16 and 14 times, respectively. […]

Jun
01
2012

Being Transgender in American Media

Most journalists get pronouns right, but issues wrong

Jenna Talackova--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Give the corporate media cookies for finally getting pronouns right when reporting on transgender people. That only took dozens of years. Now if we could curb the media fixation on genitalia, we might be really getting somewhere. Because when it comes to covering transgender issues, media are still asking all the wrong questions, and framing the stories in the most offensive ways. Let’s examine the media swarm around Miss Universe Canada contestant Jenna Talackova. In April, Talackova was ousted from the pageant because of her transgender identity, and then later reinstated. Sure, reporters and newscasters were practically bursting to show […]

Jun
01
2012

SoundBites

Straight From the Horse’s Mouth Under the headline “Budget Plan’s Defeat Shows Hurdles to Compromise,” New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman (4/3/12) bemoaned the failure of a fiscal measure modeled on the media-beloved Bowles-Simpson plan (Extra!, 1/11), in which former Sen. Alan Simpson (R.-Wyo.) and Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles proposed Social Security cuts, tax cuts for the wealthy and an arbitrary cap on government spending. Weisman assured readers that Bowles-Simpson “is regarded by the Washington cognoscenti as the compromise both sides will have to eventually accept before the end of the year.” He backed that up with a […]

Jun
01
2012

U.S. Media Duck Legality of Attacking Iran

‘Supreme international crime’ not worth discussing

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad--Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Daniella Zalcman

SPECIAL SECTION: IRAN & WAR The drums of war beat ever louder as President Barack Obama talks of “all options” being “on the table” if Iran doesn’t halt its nuclear fuel processing program, and as Israel keeps threatening an air attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. But nowhere, perhaps, is this drumbeat louder than in the U.S. media, where it’s almost impossible to find any mention of the fact that such an attack, whether by U.S. or Israeli forces, would violate international law. An unprovoked attack against another nation is a war of aggression—“the supreme international crime,” as the Nuremberg Tribunal […]

Jun
01
2012

Lost in Translation

Iran never threatened to wipe Israel off the map

The menacing threat has been repeated endlessly in U.S. corporate media in recent years: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” “Iran,” “Israel” and “wipe” in one form or another occur together in more than 17,000 articles in the Nexis news database over the last seven years. It plays a critical role in the case for pre-emptive war against Iran. There’s just one problem: It never happened. Mideast expert and blogger Juan Cole (Informed Comment, 5/3/06) noted long ago that Iranian leaders never called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” but a […]

Jun
01
2012

New Media; but Familiar Lack of Diversity

Women, people of color still marginalized online

Recent years have seen much rallying around “traditional” journalism in the face of its supposedly imminent demise, including the mythologizing of pre-Internet news media as a force of social cohesion. Lamenting the “culture of observing events from ‘inside’ a community,” Washington Post columnist and associate editor David Ignatius (5/2/10) contended: When the information landscape was dominated by three networks and a few major newspapers, journalists were trained to report for everyone. Now, niche audiences want more intimacy and connection—even if that means less old-school independence and objectivity. Traditional outlets, of course, did not and do not report “for everyone,” but […]

Jun
01
2012

Think Tank Spectrum Revisited

Conservatives gain within still-narrow spectrum

Heritage Foundation--Photo Credit: Heritage Foundation

THINK TANK MONITOR After a two-year hiatus, the FAIR think tank survey is back. In our last survey, using 2008 data (FAIR.org, 9/3/09), overall think tank citations were in decline, and that decline was most noticeable among conservative think tanks. The results for 2011 are the opposite: a good year for the top 25 think tanks, particularly for those that lean to the right. Centrist think tanks still dominate at 47 percent, but their citations dropped 2 percentage points from 2010, while the proportion of conservative or center-right think tank mentions inched up from 31 to 33 percent, and progressive […]

Jun
01
2012

The Great British Mistake

Where are the retractions from austerity enthusiasts

Thomas Friedman

When the Conservative-led government in Britain announced a budget plan in 2010 based on dramatic austerity measures designed to lower that country’s budget deficit, the news was greeted by many U.S.-based pundits with enthusiasm: Finally, a major economy was going to apply the sort of medicine that Very Serious People agreed was needed. The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman (5/9/10) quoted Economist editor John Micklethwait as saying the British vote of 2010 was the first Western election “based on pain”—and it’s hard not to feel Friedman was taking pleasure in the London-based Financial Times’ declaration (4/26/10) that “the next government […]